When you make decisions, develop concepts, or search for solutions, you think about it intensively – but sometimes that's not the best possible way to accomplish your goals. If you think too much about something, you get carried away with the challenges and prevent effective and efficient problem solving.
I myself am a person who often thinks way too much – so in a way, these techniques are also a kind of therapy for me. In writing this article, I want to remind myself that I don't need to ruminate about everything.
Pondering is useful when …
- … you don't know what to do.
- … something is unclear.
- … you have to make a decision.
However, thinking is useless if …
- … the tasks are already defined.
- … the action plan has been clarified.
- … the decision has already been made.
In these cases, excessive thinking only adds to the stress. You always go around in circles and look at the problem in a very one-sided way, because pondering prevents creative thinking.
Those who repeatedly rethink and doubt decisions that have already been made are not only more insecure and dissatisfied, but they also neglect the tasks and decisions of the present. Once the pondering phase is over, don't allow yourself to keep going back to the finished project.
It can help to schedule a “worry time” where you are allowed to ruminate on everything for a certain period of time. Ideally, you do this together with a trusted person. Then you can confide all your worries to each other and usually feel better afterwards.
The reason why we think so much about our problems is called the Zeigarnik effect. It describes that humans think more often about unfinished tasks (or those that we subconsciously think are unfinished).
There are four possible solutions to avoid this effect:
- Complete the task.
- Plan the task, answering the following questions: What needs to be done, when, where, and how?
- Delegate the task, making sure to include a deadline so that you can plan better yourself.
- Cancel or delete the task. However, you need to make sure you're your subconscious mind really understands this.
Stress usually comes from within because you get wrapped up in things and don't solve problems effectively and efficiently because of it. If you stop ruminating over everything and questioning all decisions, you will not only be more relaxed and creative, but you will also be able to solve new problems more easily.